Girl Talk, a wiry guy from Pittsburgh whose real name is Gregg Gillis, made his name mashing together snippets of Ice Cube, the Rolling Stones, and Aphex Twin, serving the sugary sum of their parts to crowds who sweat a lot while dancing along. This spring Gillis tried something new, and produced his own hip-hop beats. Sitting on a pile of productions that sampled '70s soul and Biggie, he recruited Freeway, the Philadelphia rapper who used to run with Jay Z's Roc-a-Fella crew, to make a collaborative EP called Broken Ankles.
"It was kind of an unlikely partnership on the surface," Gillis said. "But I'm a big fan of Freeway's music and a lot of the production I wanna do is similar to the stuff that's on his records." The result is something that nods to the tough and soulful rap Freeway made a decade ago, but also celebrates that, deep into their careers, both he and Girl Talk are still curious. "I just like working with somebody that will compliment with what I do," Freeway said. "And I like doing full projects with people so we can zone out and make the best product."
In honor of their successful partnership, we asked Girl Talk and Freeway to set up some dream music couples, and explain why they'd work.
1. Iggy Azalea and Missy Elliott
Freeway: Iggy and Miggy! This would be wild. I think people would get a kick out of it.
Girl Talk: I haven't digested that much of Iggy's music so far, but I feel like Missy would sound good on "Fancy" or any beat like that. I actually can't imagine Missy doing anything that wouldn't sound awesome.
2. E-40 and Stevie Nicks
Girl Talk: I feel like E-40 deserves this.
Freeway: E-40 has put in so much work, he's like the king out in the Bay.
Girl Talk: And Stevie Nicks is an icon. In a lot of modern rap, there's a darker turn to the beats. I can imagine Stevie howling an ominous vocal hook that could be sampled. She would definitely be singing the hook and E-40 would do the verses. She could bring a little gothic element to E-40's life. A little witchery. So I just think this would be a real beautiful match. I would like to see a relationship, actually.
3. Jay Z and Taylor Swift
Freeway: So powerful. Superpower. Illuminati at its finest.
Girl Talk: Those are both perfect individuals.
Freeway: They can do no wrong. Their collaboration would sound like what they play before you walk through the gate of heaven. Definitely be upper echelon, high-scale music. Girl Talk should produce it. That way I could come to the studio and be a fly on the wall when they do this. Might even be like, "Hey Jay, let me put an eight on that!"
4. Mariah Carey and Rick Rubin
Girl Talk: This one might not actually work. Rick Rubin's done Dixie Chicks before. But this would definitely be something that people would lose their minds over. I like Mariah Carey's new stuff, but Rick Rubin could give her that edge. The legend is that he can get the best out of you, no matter what. I feel like Mariah Carey could be pushed a little bit.
Freeway: Maybe she should call you.
5. Nicki Minaj and DJ Premier
Freeway: I think this would be crazy, back to the roots. Beats banging. You know Nicki got bars, she'd definitely go in and do her thing. New York would love it, Philly would love it. Let's make it happen.
Girl Talk: Out of all of our combos, that would be the most business-savvy, or one that would actually happen. Everyone that likes rap music really likes when Nicki Minaj raps. Everyone is always wanting more rap rap stuff from her.
Freeway: You know what else would be a great combo? (Brings Nicki Minaj's face up, alongside his own)
6. Cher and DJ Mustard
Girl Talk: This would just be too perfect. This would be so beautiful.
Freeway: I wonder how the studio session would be. Would she have some candles lit?
Girl Talk: I don't know if Mustard would be putting up with the candles.
7. Miley Cyrus and Kanye West
Girl Talk: She recorded a "Black Skinhead" remix. That was supposed to happen. They seem to make a lot of sense together.
Freeway: They should go on the road for 10 years and retire in Vegas. I'd pay money to see it every night.
8. Beyoncé and Ozzy Osbourne
Girl Talk: This would have no backing track. Just vocals on vocals on vocals. All vocal, like that Bjork album that's all vocal sources. These two are both legends in their own way. They both have beautiful hair.